Sunday February 25, 2007 I sat down in my Tico sister’s bedroom. I pulled out my Costa Rica for Dummies book and began searching for things to do during Spring Break and asking for her advice, because she traveled a lot before having her son Andoni. Then the Saprissa soccer match came on the local channel 7 television station. The Saprissa soccer team represents the San Jose Province in Costa Rica. There are two teams that represent this region, but my Tico family routes for Saprissa, so I’ve also taken on this team, as if they were my own home team.
This sport, soccer to us, futbol to them, happens to be the most popular sport in all of Latin America. Teams range from small town teams like my neighborhood Sabanilla Team, to minor league teams, to major league teams, like the Saprissa team. I tried to round up the troops, meaning other soccer fans, when my Tica sister told me that the Saprissa team was playing in San Jose on Wednesday night, so that I could share this experience with them, but there was only one brave soul who agreed to go with me, considering all of the recent fights that had occurred in different soccer stadiums throughout the world.
The plan: to meet at 7:30 for a game that started at 8:30 in Parque de Sabanilla, where we always meet. Then, there was a phone call; we needed to leave at 7:00 pm because there was going to be a large crowd, because the opposing team, Cartargo, was located near San Jose. They would have a lot of fans.
We met at 7:00 pm in the Parque de Sabanilla, catch a Taxi, because the buses are slow during this time of the day. We get in and tell the driver, ‘Estadio de Saprissa, por favor.’ A ride that we thought would be no longer than 10 minutes, turned into a 20 minute drive and a traffic jam because the taxi driver didn’t have change for what they consider large colones bills. We made our way through the enthusiastically dressed fans and street venders, grilling chicken on sticks, selling ‘hot’ tickets for $2 more than the original price, selling sports memorabilia and the other crowds of people drinking beer on the streets and about 6 different entrances into the massive stadium. We began to panic, but only a little, because with our combined knowledge we found out where to buy tickets, which entrance to go through, and which section to sit in.
“Ole-Ole Ole Ole-Ole Ole- Azul Azul!” the Cartargo soccer fans screamed as Mark and I entered the brightly colored purple soccer stadium in the San Jose countryside Wednesday March 6, 2007. We went to buy a beer and some snacks before heading to ours seats, to find that alcoholic beverages aren’t sold in the stadiums, which explains why people were drinking in the streets. We stepped into the stadium, asked the man for our seats and he pointed to the front row, and said “sit anywhere.” “For real?” we asked ourselves. “We paid 4 mil. in colones, which equals 8 American dollars, for front row seats!” This was unbelievable. We decided to sit on the 4th row so that we could see the entire field. The stadium, not as packed as we once had thought it would be, turned into a surround sound speaker as the echoing chants from the two teams’ fans filled the chill in the air.
The game commenced and the fans went wild. As the game continued the fans began to throw things like their cups, and their snacks and since we were sitting on the front row, I was hit in the head. The players were intense and the one’s who on the bench warmed up the entire half hoping to get a minute of play. The game was tied with 3 minutes left in the game and Mark I decided it was time to go since there was a scarcity of Taxi’s in this area of town. The next morning I woke up and told my Tico mom about the game to find out that Cartargo had actually won by scoring an extra goal in the last couple of minutes. This was their past time as baseball is considered our past time in the U.S.A. This was truly what we consider an ‘ethnographic moment.’ I was experiencing something that was, to me, greatness and culture at it’s finest.
posted by VS